New Renault racing director Frédéric Vasseur believes Kevin Magnussen has what it takes to become Formula One world champion.
The 23-year-old initially held talks with the French constructor over its third driver role but was elevated to a full-time race seat in the wake of Pastor Maldonado’s demise following sponsorship payment issues.
Magnussen’s 2013 Formula Renault 3.5 Series title made him a hot commodity on the driver market, with McLaren dropping Sergio Perez to give the Dane his F1 debut. But while he acquitted himself well in his rookie campaign – he was on the podium for his maiden race -, Magnussen had to step down to a reserve role to make room for the returning Fernando Alonso.
“He had a strong race season at McLaren two years ago and showed his ability in the junior categories such as Formula Renault 3.5,” Vasseur said. “He can target winning races and championships as he has the talent.
“The fact he had a lack of mileage last year will motivate him and he’ll be chomping at the bit to get back into it all. It’s important for us because we all know 2016 won’t be an easy season. We know where we are starting from and we need motivated characters like Kevin to keep pushing hard.”
Magnussen last raced competitively at the 2015 Australian Grand Prix where he deputised for the sidelined Alonso, though he could not even make the start due to his car breaking down on the way to the grid.
The Dane then grew frustrated at sitting on the sidelines and was eventually let go by McLaren last October, a couple of weeks after the British team had confirmed Jenson Button for 2016.
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